Suffice to say, with the summer winding down, there hasn’t been much over the past few months that really grabbed hold of our excitement. There was a lot of okay, but not very much that blew away our summer blockbuster wants. As we roll through August, there are a few last glimmers of hope on the calendar that may not save this summer entirely, but might at least let us feel a little better about it as we part ways. One such film is KICK-ASS 2. While the first film in the franchise wasn’t rolling in the dough that some of the more well-known superhero properties have been in recent memory, it was a creative take on the comic book genre, adapting Mark Millar’s book of the same name to provide something different than what Marvel and DC have been rolling our way. Enough interest prompted Millar to head off into sequel territory, and Universal was keen to try capitalizing on the cult following the likes of Kick-Ass, Hit Girl and Red Mist managed to create.
Fans have been wondering if KICK-ASS 2 can match or even surpass the fun of the first flick, especially in light of new cast member Jim Carrey basically disowning the film due to its high level of violence. Well, we’ve got an early answer, with one of our spies managing to catch an early screening of KICK-ASS 2 and passing along his thoughts on whether or not the follow-up hits its mark. Does KICK-ASS 2 have the same magic as the franchise’s first offering, or is this another sequel that just can’t duplicate what made its predecessor so good? Allow Dark Helmet to give you his opinion.
Needless to say, if you want to know nothing about what’s to come in KICK-ASS 2 in a couple of weeks, this is heading into SPOILER territory… so you have been warned.
Quickly catching us up on what everyone’s been doing since the first film, Kick-Ass 2 opens with a series of scenes detailing how Dave/Kick-Ass, Mindy/Hit-Girl, and Chris/Red Mist/The Mother Fucker have dealt with the aftermath of Big Daddy’s death and Kick-Ass murdering Chris’ dad with a rocket launcher.
Hit-Girl’s living with her father’s former partner, Dave is still a loser (only now people think he’s having sex with a 15-year old), and Chris is not-so-subtly exploring his sexuality and trying to discover himself—quickly deciding on becoming the world’s first supervillain (Though, I think UBL, Hitler, HH Holmes, and hundreds of others beat him to that).
What follows is Hit-Girl trying to be liked by the popular clique at high school, a sub-plot that literally ends with a group of 15-year old girls puking all over each other and pooping on the floor of a high school cafeteria, and Dave trying to get Hit-Girl to become Hit-Girl again in what is the most annoying and selfish pitches in recent memory. Jim Carrey shows up for a while, too, but only for about 30 minutes of screen time, which sucks because his performance is actually pretty good. It’s a role that is definitely outside his typical purview, and it’s a role of relatively little ego—his face appears on-screen for about 2 minutes unobscured. His performance is definitely a high point, even if his character is kind of a lame duck.
I have a ton of problems with the film on a narrative level—it tries to fit too much material in to the running time resulting in awkward tonal shift, there’s a lot of hopefully-unconscious fixation on the sexualization of teenage girls, just to name a few—and the CGI (which is used in scenes that don’t even need it!) makes the film visually uneven. But really my biggest problem with the movie is that it’s…well…boring.
The film tries to be a number of things but is first and foremost an action film. The problem, though, is that, like a number of other blockbusters this summer, KICK-ASS 2 is more fixated on fights than on the characters fighting. Like the first film, KICK-ASS 2 is a very violent film (albeit terrifyingly less violent than the comic book), and while I actually enjoyed the first film, this time around I was kind of sort of offended by it. Not the level of violence in the film—which is what a number of people took umbrage with in the first film—but the amount of it. There are so many action sequences in the film that I quickly become bored by them and by the end was actually annoyed by them. They’re shot with a very shaky camera, very close in, and with a terrible amount of cuts. A number of the sequences are hard to watch simply because the action is so unclear. A cardinal sin for an action film. Additionally, the expository scenes are barely more than filler, carrying us through from one poorly-shot fight to another. We’re not given a single reason to like, care about, or be interested in any of the characters. They’re all selfish or sociopathically detached, or they accidentally killed their mother and are now murdering people dressed in her fetish gear. It’s really just a bunch, “Huff, sigh, who really cares?” To top it off, the film plays all the action straight (or as straight as it can) until the final fight which features one of the most stylized fights since 300—it’s jarring, and the low-level CGI used makes it look like garbage as well as out of place.
Secondarily, the film attempts to be a comedy; the Hit-Girl sub-plot a broad comedy and the Kick-Ass one a black comedy. But neither of them are funny. One makes the same joke about “We didn’t really see any action…but there was always action” joke about Kick-Ass and his pseudo-girlfriend getting it on a stall several times (it’s not funny the first time), and the other has three girls vomit on each other and poop on the floor as a central scene. There’s a “haha rape can be funny!” joke and four 15-year old girls talking about how “soaked” they are after watching a boy band perform. I said “Eeeewwww” more than I laughed, because KICK-ASS 2 is the parabolic end behavior of gross-out humor as it approaches infinity.
Other than Carrey’s performance, the only thing this film has going for it is a moment when Chris Mintz-Plasse’s uncle has Red Mist (who goes by The Mother Fucker now) listen to the murder of his bodyguard and tells him that this is real evil, that dress-up BS is for day players. That scene was strong, poignant, and true to life. But it’s ruined by the script: The Mother Fucker reacts with lines of dialogue that I was literally mouthing in the theater seconds before he said them.
My expectations weren’t even high for this one! I hated the comic but enjoyed the first film a great deal and hoped the second film, like the first, would be better than the comic. I wasn’t expecting a masterpiece, but I at least figured I’d enjoy it. Unfortunately…
I’ve tried describing it as something other a violent direct-to-DVD American Pie movie, but I can’t come up with anything more accurate. For the people that are into that sort of thing, this film is Jeff Wadlow’s magnum opus. But for everyone else…? ‘Nuff said.
Not a fan of KICK-ASS 2, huh, Lord Helmet? Well, that’s a shame. We’ll see if others have a more favorable opinion of the sequel in the weeks ahead.